Bedtime is one of Matt Johnston’s favourite times of day. It’s a time for baths, stories, snuggles and the chance to connect with the three little girls in his life – the princess, the trickster and the very best friend.
Baby Charlotte is the littlest, and the one who looks most like her mum. She’s eight months old and although Matt spent the entire pregnancy convinced that she was a boy, it’s looking like Charlie is going to be the girliest of the three. Eden will be two in a few months’ time and she’s the one with the mischievous grin and her daddy’s love of a good joke. Then there’s six-year-old Ella who came into Matt’s life when he met and fell in love with her mum, Misty Reid.
“I wasn’t even thinking about fatherhood back then,” says Matt, but hanging out with a three year old can change your perspective on life. “I started off being a friend to Ella back then, and I still am. But now I see myself as a best friend,” he says. Ella divides her time between both her mum and dad, and Matt says the dynamic when the three girls are together is gorgeous. “Ella’s awesome with them and she’s a really important part of this family.”
It’s a busy household with the two littlies being just 11 months apart (they’ll be the same age for one month of every year), but Matt comes from a family of five and is used to a little bit of chaos. He’s the eldest and there is 15 years between him and the youngest, so he has always taken his big brother responsibilities seriously. When it comes to fatherhood, Matt says he hasn’t had to look any further than his own father for a role model.
“He’s an awesome dad. I have great memories of him taking us to work with him, and sometimes and I do that with my girls.” But one thing his dad didn’t prepare him for is the lack of sleep a young family brings. Matt is amongst the first in his group of friends to have children so he wasn’t really aware of the kinds of hours the job demands!
“You have some nights when it feels like you get no sleep at all, but somehow you find the energy to keep on going and keep on looking after them. And you don’t complain, you just do it. I think that’s because they give an amazing amount of love back – even when they are too little to express it.” And when they do express it, it’s even better.
“Eden has just started saying ‘I love you’, she even said it over the phone the other day. They say girls always love their dads.”